Recently I added yet another theater to my growing catalogue of old school cinemas in Taiwan 台灣: the derelict Dōng’ān Grand Theater 東安大戲院 in East Tainan 台南市東區. This theater opened in 1969 and closed its doors not long after the turn of the millennium, another victim of changing consumer habits. I wasn’t able to find a way inside this theater so this post only features a handful of exterior shots and some links I chanced upon after conducting preliminary research.
Dong’an Theater shares the building with the eponymous Dong’an Market 東安市場, still in operation on the ground floor. Multi-use commercial buildings like this one were fairly common in Taiwan in the latter decades of the 20th century, particularly in the hyper-dense urban sprawl of the Taipei Basin. Yonghe 永和 alone is home to three similar theater-market complexes.
While researching the history of the old theater I stumbled upon some intriguing trivia. According to this article (corroborated here) the market and cinema were originally founded by the mother of Chen Chien-jen 陳建仁, current vice-president of Taiwan. No doubt he’ll have some early childhood memories of the market and theater! It isn’t clear to me when the business was sold but at some point the family moved back to Kaohsiung 高雄.
Many derelict theaters in Taiwan are seldom mentioned online but Dong’an Theater regularly arouses outpourings of nostalgia. For more photos and text (in Chinese) browse over here, here, here, here, and here. Finally, from the looks of this gallery it seems possible to access the old theater somehow, so I’ll be sure to return sometime and try again.